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Enemy Health Status

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Kellyrayj, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. Kellyrayj


    Aug 29, 2011
    I've been thinking about turn based combat stuff and enemy status feedback. I'm in the ball park of pokemon or an RPG game like Golden Sun. I can't think of an example where the game gives the player the numeric values of the enemies health outright.

    upload_2015-11-18_15-33-34.png upload_2015-11-18_15-36-59.png upload_2015-11-18_15-37-42.png

    I'm curious if anyone could come up with the advantage or disadvantage of showing how much health the enemy has left as exact numbers.

    Looking forward to your thoughts!
  2. AndrewGrayGames


    Nov 19, 2009
    To me, the advantages of numbers is space and ability to know precisely how much health you have. Numbers take a relatively small amount of space, at the cost of cognitive load.

    Visual counts like "Hearts" or gauges provide the player a low-load, if imprecise way of knowing how close they are to defeat.

    Personally, I lean towards visual counts, even though they take a bit more space - "a picture is worth 1,000 words." But you should do what suits your project, and the players of your game, the best.
  3. RockoDyne


    Apr 10, 2014
    Historically, I would say it was a screen real-estate issue. I think there are a couple of the old FF games that showed numbers in the enemy info bar, never mind with scan, but these where still workarounds for a lack of screen space. Jump ahead to the PS2 and there are a number of cases where it's a part of the normal UI.

    As far as the impact on gameplay, I don't think it's usually important. I've never heard of a mechanic/move that was dependent on the exact amount of health at least (or never used it). Pokemon is a curious example because it actually heightens drama by not knowing the exact numbers when it comes to catching. The real value is to placate players who want total information awareness.
    Kellyrayj and AndrewGrayGames like this.
  4. Kiwasi


    Dec 5, 2013
    You can always give players the option. From memory CIV had a verbose UI setting where all the numbers were shown, as well as a straight forward bar system.
  5. Master-Frog


    Jun 22, 2015
    For your character's HP:

    The numbers aren't needed. They were done for a long time in RPG's, so it is just tradition. Therefore, they are just an obstacle to communicating to the player. You can communicate better spatially, we are naturally good at that. A rectangle against a contrasting rectangle outline or shape is sufficient. Numbers are necessary when making comparisons between multiple options, especially when the difference between them is subtle, or you're dealing with cost and a finite supply and you're trying to figure out the most "bang for your buck". Just "how much health do I have" at a glance, most of the time you're just healing if it "feels" like you can't take another hit, rather than attacking. That doesn't require math. Especially when in many games, the damage you receive can be affected by luck, rng, timing, etc. and you have no clue what attack the enemy will use next.

    When it comes to enemy's HP:

    The same thing, plus you aren't supposed to have intimate info about the status of your enemy. So it makes sense.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2015
    GarBenjamin likes this.
  6. Zaladur


    Oct 20, 2012
    League has a good mechanic where no numbers are shown, but the health bar is divided into ticks which indicate chunks of health. So while everyone has the same health bar length, visually, you can get a grasp on approximate health left without clogging the screen with numbers.

    This may or may not work if your game has massive scaling (level 1, about 50 health, level 50 = 10 million health)

    I am a fan of numbers shown upon damaging foes in a turn based game. Combat is generally more strategic and full of options, and getting more detailed feedback on your actions helps to shape your strategy. If there are small differences, a bar approach might not give enough feedback.
    Kiwasi and AndrewGrayGames like this.
  7. LostJourneyman


    Jul 17, 2015
    I remember how changes the sprites of the enemies colors in super metroid (Snes). I'll like to do something like that, the animation and the visuals tells the health (sorry for my bad english, im new here)
  8. dogmachris


    Sep 15, 2014
    You could also say, a word is worth 0.001 pictures. ;)
    If you visualize the health with a circle that cuts down clockwise while also changing its color from green to red, it costs even less space than a number.
    AndrewGrayGames likes this.